Julie Moser was getting ready to bring her husband to the hangar for a deployment to Afghanistan when she noticed what looked like a shadow under her left breast. With him having to be out the door in minutes, she didn’t share with him that she found a lump, too.
“We said our goodbyes and went back home. I made an appointment with my PCM and she brought me in right away. She found three lumps,” Moser said.
She would then go on to spend her wedding anniversary with her best friend getting biopsies done of those lumps.
“To hear the sound of a punch biopsy is the most horrific sound. I got so nauseous; I thought I was going to throw up,” she said.
Following that were mammograms and ultrasounds, with each procedure leaving Moser waiting in anxiety. Her husband called her every day to check-in. On Oct. 28, 2013 — her phone finally rang with a call from her doctor’s office.
“She said, ‘I need you to come in, we got your results’… I could hear it in her voice, I just knew. I couldn’t call my husband so I called my best friend,” Moser said.
Once in the office, she was handed a form with chilling words bolded at the top: carcinoma.
“My best friend was crying, the doctor was crying and I just said, ‘Well, I shouldn’t have quit smoking,’ Moser said with a laugh.
What followed that conversation were endless appointments. She also waited for her husband who was being sent back home from Afghanistan. Moser would end up having to drive to pick him up at a rerouted airport, four hours away.
“Seeing him for the first time was like being diagnosed all over again, I just collapsed and lost it.”
Moser was the first one in her family to have cancer of any kind. At only 39, she wasn’t yet eligible for a mammogram and had just been checked months before her cancer was discovered.
“I had already decided I wanted a double mastectomy, even though they had only found the cancer on the left. When they did it, they found that the tumors on the left breast were bigger than they thought. They also found pre-cancerous markers on my right breast,” she shared.
Her assigned oncologist then told her, “Well, you got the good kind of breast cancer.”
After switching to a more empathetic doctor with a better bedside manner, Moser began treatment. Seven days after her first dose of chemo, her hair starting falling out. Her husband shaved both of their heads and his unit all wore pink shirts under their uniforms in support. She also found herself surprised by the various responses to her diagnosis.
“The people who I thought were going to be there, weren’t. It was the people that I would have never asked for help that were there,” Moser shared.
Moser was unable to work her well-paying government job because she was too sick. This left the family in dire financial straits, unable to sustain their bills and charging up their credit cards. They were unable to qualify for financial aid, even though her husband was only an E5. It was a difficult time, but when Moser rang the bell for being cancer-free — it was a good day.
She knew she wanted to do something to give back and support other cancer patients and survivors. In 2016, she founded Pink Warrior Angels of Texas. It supports all cancers, genders and ages. The nonprofit also pairs those newly diagnosed with a cancer survivor, for emotional support.
“I’ve had the privilege of being with three people as they took their last breath,” Moser said.
Something she really wants people to know is that it isn’t just hair or just breasts. She explained that the common misconception is that once the hair grows back or the implants are in, you can put cancer behind you. This isn’t the case for most cancer survivors who end up with lifelong complications, from both the cancer and the treatment to save them.
As Moser looks back on her own cancer survival, she remains thankful it led her to a purpose-filled life with Pink Warrior Angels of Texas. There’s no other way she’d rather spend her days and encourages others to do the same.
“Don’t spend your life feeling like you aren’t worth it. You are. Whatever it is that you want to do, don’t waste time — just do it.”
Visit https://pwatx.org/ to learn more about Pink Warrior Angels of Texas.Read comments